Abbas Warns Trump: Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Would Be 'Disastrous'

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Abbas speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community on January 6, 2017, in Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem.
Abbas speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community on January 6, 2017, in Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem.Credit: HAZEM BADER/AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sent a letter to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump warning the incoming American leader of the negative implications of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Palestinian president called on Trump to reconsider his support for such a move. "Abbas told Trump that such [a] move will likely have [a] disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law," the Wafa statement said.

The Palestinian president also sent letters on the issue to the leaders of Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, as well as to the heads of the European Union and other international organizations, including the Arab League "asking them to spare no effort to prevent moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem," the report stated.

This latest letter from Abbas follows a series of statements by the Palestinian president and other senior Palestinian officials warning against moving the U.S. embassy, a sentiment voiced by the Jordanian minister of state for media affairs, Mohammad al-Momani, as well. The issue was also raised at a meeting with a group of left-wing Israelis last Friday in Bethlehem.

Haaretz has learned that there has been a growing sense among the Palestinian leadership that Trump is serious about moving the embassy and that this was not simply a stance that was taken on the presidential campaign hustings, as it was with  prior American presidential candidates who reconsidered once in office.

At a meeting this week at Abbas' headquarters in Ramallah, senior Palestinian officials spoke about the prospect that the process of moving the embassy could begin immediately after Trump takes office on January 20. They even spoke of January 21 as a possible target date.

One senior official said the Palestinians have been receiving an increasing flow of such indications recently, particularly following last month's United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel's West Bank settlement policy, and efforts have been made recently to try to head off an embassy move.

The Palestinian president left last week for a series of meetings in European capitals. He will be in Paris for this month's French-sponsored international conference of foreign ministers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He will not attend the conference itself, although he was invited to attend by French President Francois Hollande. 

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